Aside from some unfortunate aesthetic changes, the aging process can also prompt cardiovascular disease, cancer, and cognitive decline.
But now, a new study has revealed the molecular structure of key protein that can actually send a hormonal signal that slows the aging process.
Previously, it was commonly held that the αKlotho protein was the major anti-aging hormone. But researchers from the NYU School of Medicine found contradicting evidence that shows how the hormone takes a backseat to the fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF23).
It turns out αKlotho simply aids FGF23 in anti-aging processes instead of acting alone, as it had been thought. The researchers say it could lead to revolutionary new drug treatments for kidney disease, which is also linked to aging.
It’s been proven in studies dating back to 1997 that mice who didn’t have either of the hormones showed signs of aging. For the new study, the researchers got to the heart of the molecular structure of the proteins that were linked to FGF23 and αKlotho.
The researchers used X-ray crystallography, a method meant for determining the molecular and atomic structure of a crystal. First, the research team observed how FGF23, its receptor protein FGFR, and αKlotho formed crystalline stacks out of a solution.
Once X-rays were beamed through the crystal formations, the researchers were able to get a better idea of its structuring and how all three parts interacted.
The results show how αKlotho binds FGF23 to its receptor protein and this is what gives FGF23 its anti-aging properties.
The study also helps explain how heart hypertrophy is linked to kidney disease, solving an important mystery in the process.
Heart hypertrophy is when the muscles tissue around the heart thickens, and it’s a leading cause of death in people with kidney problems.
It was hypothesized that FGF23 caused hypertrophy, and the researchers realized that αKlotho could travel in the bloodstream and even reach the heart, causing the dysfunction.
The results could have exciting implications in new drug treatments for kidney disease and reveal how integral FGF23 and αKlotho are to anti-aging.
By Kay Vandette, Earth.com Staff Writer